Five essential steps to finding your niche
When you establish a niche of your own, it allows you to specialise and become the Go-To-Expert on your chosen topic. “That’s all very well” you may be thinking, “but how on earth do I work out what my niche should be?” To help you not only find your niche but a profitable one, we’ve laid out the five steps that you need to take.
Why do you even need a niche?
Before I go into ‘how do I find a niche?’ I first should cover why you even need one in the first place. The good news is that it’s pretty simple.
Firstly, your partners are very unlikely to hand you your first clients on a plate (unless you are lucky enough to be inheriting a partner’s portfolio). After all, they (your partners) probably have their drawings and share of the firm’s profits directly linked to the size of the client portfolio. This means that you can not ‘hang onto their coat-tails’ and aim to be a replica of them! I’ve heard quite a few times about senior associates and directors who’ve been told by their partners that they expect them to do more than just maintain a client portfolio they are given. They want any ‘inherited’ client portfolio to first be stabilised and then grown.
Secondly, as a result of this, you will need your own technical specialism and niche. I.e. so that you can become the Go-To-Expert for that niche. Being an expert will not only attract internal referrals from partners in your firm, but it will also attract new client enquiries that come to you. As an aside, most business cases I have read for Big 4 directors and partners all reference how the individual is seen as a Go-To Expert for something.
See here for all other benefits of committing to a niche.
How not to find a niche
The hard part of finding a niche is identifying and choosing one where you are confident that there is enough of a market that will be motivated to buy your services, and make a good living from it.
Sometimes, to answer a question such as ‘how do I find a profitable niche?’ you need to know how not to do it first. Here are a couple of poorly chosen niches or “non-niches” as examples:
- Accountant specialising in Owner Managed Businesses (OMBs). This is what most mid-tier and small firms of accountants specialise in. This could then become…..
- Accountant specialising in working with owner-managed financial services businesses
Can you see the difference? You may find our FREE guide to choosing and capitalising in your niche useful (email required).
Finding your niche in just 5 steps
How do I find a niche? To find a niche that will work for you, there are five simple steps to follow:
1.) Search the internet to find professionals with a similar skill-set to you. Search professionals on LinkedIn and write down all the sector specialisms and ‘niches’ that you find. Thinking about your interests and passions, do any of them stand out to you?
2.)Write a list of at least ten possible niches that you could adopt. From your full list of specialisms, narrow this down to at least 10 niches that you would be happy to pursue.
3.) Assess each one against some key criteria. This step will involve a bit of research, so take your time going through each niche and assess whether they are worth pursuing. Here are some key questions that you should be asking and answering for each:
Does working within this niche excite you?
Is there a big enough marketplace for you to build a profitable client portfolio?
Do you already have credibility working with this particular audience?
Do you have existing good relationships with people well connected to this marketplace?
Does your firm want to develop its client base within this niche?
Do you like, and can relate, to the people who work within this niche?
Is the demand for your services from this niche growing?
Do existing advisors currently poorly serve this niche?
Any niche which gets at least five ticks is potentially a good fit for you.
4.) Test your top-five potential niches. Once you’ve narrowed down the specialisms to your top five, now you need to apply the ‘is there enough of a marketplace motivated to buy my service and products’ test? The ones that pass this test with flying colours need to be prioritised!
5.) Which of your top three ranked potential niches excites you the most? At the end of this process, you should have a few specialisms that you know you like and that would be a good career choice for you to pursue. All that is left to do is to decide which one excites you the most as this is likely to be the best niche for you to adopt!
Click here to download our free Niche Worksheet to help you quickly and simply decide on your niche. (email required)
Still can’t decide on your niche?
If you can’t decide between some of the potential niches you have identified then think about in which of your niches you have:
- the most credibility;
- the most engaged and largest network;
- the most potential for strategic alliances already available to you;
- the most number of current or ex-clients; and
- the most amount of excitement when you think about specialising in this area.
Long story short, if you have a passion for more than one specialism, a good strategy for choosing your niche is to think about where you’ve already made the most headway as this is where you are more likely to be the most successful.
Things to remember when choosing your niche
Remember that adopting a niche helps you acquire new clients. It is not your decision to commit to a niche but the quality of the service that you deliver to your clients that will determine whether you keep them.
If you’re a professional that has been asking yourself ‘how do I find a niche?’ or ‘how do I find a profitable niche?’ take your time going through these 5 steps and you’ll soon see what your passion is and which specialisms you will likely thrive in!
Don’t forget to use our FREE choosing your niche worksheet if you need additional help (email required).
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Heather Townsend is Founder and Author of ‘The Accountants Millionaires’ Club’. In 2015 the ICAEW decided she was the number one online influencer for the accountancy profession. She is the author of 5 books, including The Go-To...